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jc1funk

bridge and string alignment

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On the original bridge on my 335, the saddles are notched off-centre. All of the notches are aligned with the side of the intonation screw on the treble side of the instrument (as opposed to aligning with the centre of the screw).

 

IMG_2152_zpsbc81978e.jpg

 

Q1. Is this normal?

 

The replacement bridge which is currently on the guitar has the saddle notches aligned with the centre of the saddles, and are therefore aligned over the centre of the intonation screws. However, as a result, I've notice that towards the upper frets, the strings are not running down the centre of the fret board, they are closer to the bass side of the fret board.

 

Q2. Is this normal or an issue created by the replacement bridge saddles not being notched specifically for this guitar?

 

Overall I'd prefer to return to the original bridge once I receive a replacement intonation screw for the one that's missing... just checking that this is going to be the being course of action.

 

Thanks for your help.

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an issue created by the replacement bridge saddles not being notched specifically for this guitar?

 

This is your answer.

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So I put the original bridge back on, the universe is now back in order.

 

Next question: is this repairable? Can the bridge pins be moved without too much damage or creating a larger problem?

 

Looking at the distance they'd have to move (slightly less than the radius of the pins) I'm guessing not... too risky right?

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Rookie question here.

How do you access the intonation screws when you have a string under tension in the saddle?

Do you adjust the intonation screws by listening to the plucked string?

If the string is not in the saddle and not under tension, how do you know when the intonation screws are correctly positioned?

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Rookie question here.

How do you access the intonation screws when you have a string under tension in the saddle?

Do you adjust the intonation screws by listening to the plucked string?

If the string is not in the saddle and not under tension, how do you know when the intonation screws are correctly positioned?

 

1. Best done with new strings and ensure all other set-up tasks are complete, intonation is last

2. Tune guitar to pitch

3. Lightly fret a string at the twelfth fret, if the note is off pitch use a screw driver to adjust the saddle (towards the nut if 12th is flat, towards the bridge if sharp)... access shouldn't be an issue on a standard bridge. Can be done while under tension but if it's stiff you may want to slacken the string to make the adjustment easier.

4. Wash, rinse and repeat until the open string and the 12th fret are both at pitch. Do every string.

 

There are lots of videos on youtube. Good to watch someone do it.

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... Can be done while under tension but if it's stiff you may want to slacken the string to make the adjustment easier.

...

Should not be done under tension. Slackening the particular string you work on is strongly recommendable.

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Should not be done under tension. Slackening the particular string you work on is strongly recommendable.

 

you're probably right in that you'd be less likely to distress the string at the saddle, but I've never had an issue doing it at pitch. LBE (laziness breeds efficiency)

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you're probably right in that you'd be less likely to distress the string at the saddle, but I've never had an issue doing it at pitch. LBE (laziness breeds efficiency)

I'm reluctant of stressing screw heads, screw beads or spring clamps, and string windings unnecessarily.

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So I put the original bridge back on, the universe is now back in order.

 

Next question: is this repairable? Can the bridge pins be moved without too much damage or creating a larger problem?

 

Looking at the distance they'd have to move (slightly less than the radius of the pins) I'm guessing not... too risky right?

 

It's normal to have all the saddles notched off to the side like that. On ES guitars, Gibson installs the bridge and then lines up the strings with the neck and then notches the saddles as required to achieve the right alignment of the strings and the neck. Sometimes it turns out that the saddles need to be notched off center like yours.

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It's normal to have all the saddles notched off to the side like that. On ES guitars, Gibson installs the bridge and then lines up the strings with the neck and then notches the saddles as required to achieve the right alignment of the strings and the neck. Sometimes it turns out that the saddles need to be notched off center like yours.

 

With all due respect this raises more questions than it answers...

 

1. How do you know this is a standard manufacturing process?

2. Why would this only apply to ES guitars when the ABR style bridge and tailpiece is a constant across most Gibson lines?

3. If it only happens sometimes isn't this just an error by the craftsman?

4. Why haven't I seen this issue before? I look at lots of guitars in my travels...

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If it makes you feel any better, the saddles on my Memphis 335 are also notched off center, and so were the first two I rejected (not for that reason). I would not consider that a flaw. If the strings are centered and spaced correctly and the guitar will intonate properly, then what's the problem?

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If it makes you feel any better, the saddles on my Memphis 335 are also notched off center, and so were the first two I rejected (not for that reason). I would not consider that a flaw. If the strings are centered and spaced correctly and the guitar will intonate properly, then what's the problem?

yep that does make me feel better, and so no, i guess there aint a problem except the fact that's it's so close to being perfect

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With all due respect this raises more questions than it answers...

 

1. How do you know this is a standard manufacturing process?

2. Why would this only apply to ES guitars when the ABR style bridge and tailpiece is a constant across most Gibson lines?

3. If it only happens sometimes isn't this just an error by the craftsman?

4. Why haven't I seen this issue before? I look at lots of guitars in my travels...

 

Yeah, I hear what you're saying. And I can't tell you for sure why this happens, but my experience is that ES-s with the ABR-1 bridge are done this way. I think it's the way they've done them for a long time, starting back when they couldn't always line everything up perfectly to start with and they had to have a way to accomodate manufacturing tolerances. It probably is because the neck fitting process on the ES's isn't as accurate as the solid body guitars with the newer Nashville bridge. It's not an error, it's just inside the manufacturing tolerance. Most ES guitars will have the saddles notched noticeably off center. Both of the ES-s I've owned were like that. If they're centered, it's just luck.

 

How they can line up the Nashville equipped solid body guitars so well is a good question. Maybe they fit the neck first and then align the bridge and drill the anchor holes. The Nashville bridges have the saddles pre-notched right in the middle and that's how they always end up.

 

I hear ya. It makes you wonder. [thumbup]

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It probably is because the neck fitting process on the ES's isn't as accurate as the solid body guitars with the newer Nashville bridge. It's not an error, it's just inside the manufacturing tolerance. [thumbup]

 

 

The joint angle is a plus or minus .005 which is different from the Custom Shop which is a closer tolerance. Creates the lift on the Stop-Tail with the break angle to various degrees. The left to right probably has a similar acceptable tolerance which is why some pull off the high E also.

 

Personally I think Gibson should correct the problem as it would seem more cost effective imho. [biggrin]

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If I'm not mistaken, the saddles should be notched so that the strings pass over the pole pieces on the pick ups. Having a saddle with the notches in the center of the saddle may not give you that alignment. And I would guess applies to all electric guitars. And is also true for replacement saddles.

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If I'm not mistaken, the saddles should be notched so that the strings pass over the pole pieces on the pick ups. Having a saddle with the notches in the center of the saddle may not give you that alignment. And I would guess applies to all electric guitars. And is also true for replacement saddles.

Duh - I think you're right. [thumbup] [thumbup]

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If I'm not mistaken, the saddles should be notched so that the strings pass over the pole pieces on the pick ups. Having a saddle with the notches in the center of the saddle may not give you that alignment. And I would guess applies to all electric guitars. And is also true for replacement saddles.

 

Yes, the saddle notch should be placed so that the string maintains alignment with the pole pieces.

The strings should go over their respective pole piece, and string spacing should also be correct maintaining a straight line from, the saddle to it's nut slot, and that should really start at the tail piece.

IF the tail piece and bridge are set properly then the notch should be pretty close to the center, but it won't be exactly there as the bridge is set at a slight angle, but still pretty much in the middle.

 

The problem is that too many tail pieces and/or bridges are not set properly in the first place as the holes were likely not drilled in the correct position.

Tail pieces and bridges are exacting pieces by manufacturing process. Placement of the holes improperly is where the problem can happen and start that then results in having strings leaving the tail piece at an angle in order to compensate for improper placement of the TP and/or bridge. The saddle slots are then cut to try and compensate and align the strings route over the pole pieces and then onto the strings nut slot, while maintaining proper string spacing and centering on the fret board.

But, in the case of this guitar it's clear that things were not set/built properly as demonstrated by trying to install a new bridge, with properly pre-cut saddle,s at the proper position that resulted in the strings not being in alignment and not centered properly on the neck. The new bridge and it's pre-cut slots assumes the tail piece and bridge are/were properly installed in the first place.

 

I've seen this big flaw on a lot of ES guitars and frankly it's not acceptable though people do accept it.

I rejected a good number of ES335's precisely because of this issue. I don't like the strings to hit their saddle slot at a side angle/laterally. It adds an odd stress point that's going to wear the saddle notch oddly over time and could cause intonation problems.

 

I've had a guitar, not a Gibson, where the bridge was not set properly and I had intonation problems with it for years.

I finally called the manufacturer, Schecter, and asked for help. They asked for pictures and how I did the intonation. I sent picts and explained. They asked for the guitar to be send to them for evaluation.

What I suspected they confirmed. The guitar has a lifetime warranty and once Schecter saw the problem they warranted the guitar and offered me a brand new one, which was just reissued this year.

I accepted and they sent me a brand spanking new one and it's fantastic, better than the original I bought in 2005.

That's excellent customer service.

 

OP, I suggest contacting Gibson to see if they too will honor their lifetime warranty and correct the improper placement of either the tail piece or bridge like Schecter did.

I'm really curious to read what Gibson does about it.

Please post the results.

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It may also be possible that the pickups are not centered so that the pole pieces are aligned correctly with the tailpiece, bridge, neck and nut. I thinking that all the pieces need to align perfectly in order to achieve perfectly centered notches in the saddles.

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It may also be possible that the pickups are not centered so that the pole pieces are aligned correctly with the tailpiece, bridge, neck and nut. I thinking that all the pieces need to align perfectly in order to achieve perfectly centered notches in the saddles.

 

It's possible the pup routes were cut wrong and then the pups installed incorrectly. But then that too is a manufacturing problem.

The bigger concern for me is the centering of the strings on the fret board.

Again, if all the parts are installed correctly, then the string should form a straight line from the tail piece all the way to the nut slot, and the string should be as much over the center of the pole piece as possible.

If all those individual parts are off here and there the end result can look awful and at worst have intonation problems and/or not have proper fret board spacing where he low strings may be too close to the fret board edge or the opposite where the high strings are too close to the fret board edge. When that happens playing feel suffers and can make bending on the higher strings feel very odd.

In all that's a faulty and badly made guitar that needs to be rejected, and it should have NEVER left Gibson's plant for retail sale, imo.

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Quite late to this party, maybe a few peeps are still up haha! Next round is on me 😉

I have the same issue with my '04 ES137 Classic but this thread has thankfully alleviated my (albeit minor) stress. Quite awhile after buying the guitar used (2004 bought in exc+ condition in late 2019) I only recently noticed that my saddle slots were all notched to the north (bass side) . The guitar's intonation is fine, the string alignment down the neck is fine on both sides and everywhere in between, plus they more or less line up with the pole pieces... BUT to accommodate all this generally good alignment joy the saddle slots are all equally off center by a pretty good margin, suggesting the actual bridge was drilled slightly south (treble side), meaning all the strings take a distinct left turn downstream of the saddles towards the tailpiece, like very obvious. Despite this I figured I'd be best to leave well enough alone since there are no tone issues. As a bit of a fix I did a top-wrap (wraparound) on the tailpiece to increase the bridge-to-saddle distance of the actual strings and that has held just fine, plus I prefer the slinkier feel of the strings with a top wrap anyway.

All this to say all is well in ES land despite this issue, guitar sounds great, I'll sleep fine tonight.

Cheers 

Edited by alphasports

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As a matter of fact I need to alter my saddle slot spacings and have been I've been looking into buying some blank saddles, but I have a gotoh style bridge with a 9.5" radius and dont even know whether the StewMac blanks will fit in there. They are not dimensioned. 

I also wondered if it just might be easier to file down the existing saddles and recut the grooves where I want them (I do have a plan in my head for keeping the radius constant).

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